In top shape

For Pat Jacklin, chief financial officer of GoodLife Fitness, good leadership begins with passion.

Q: How did you move up to your current leadership position?

My expertise is in finance, but in all my previous roles I tried to look beyond numbers and consider the total company perspective. This enabled me to participate in decision-making at the enterprise level. So when the opportunity to take on the role of CFO at GoodLife came up, I was prepared.

Q: What makes a good leader?

It starts with passion. If you’re passionate about what your company stands for, as I am about GoodLife, your energy and enthusiasm will trickle down through the ranks. Employees tend to model their attitudes and behaviours on what their supervisors are doing. So it has to start at the top, with leadership that communicates a company’s values and respects people at all levels.

The other side of leadership is to make decisions. Good leaders seek input and support, but they also have to know when to move forward with a decision without necessarily having unanimous support. It’s an art rather than a science.

Q: What sets Canadian leaders apart?

I’d say Canada is in a league apart when it comes to caring, sensitive leadership. As a case in point, one of our core values at GoodLife is caring.

Q: How do women contribute to leading an organization?

On the whole, my experience has been that women in leadership positions look for a higher level of collaboration. That’s why it’s good to have both men and women on board as leaders — a balance of genders creates a healthy mix of perspectives. GoodLife really stands out in terms of the number of women in senior leadership positions, which I view as one of the key factors in our success.

Q: What are your thoughts about leading after a merger or takeover?

As it happens, GoodLife has taken over a number of other companies since I joined the organization. Any time I’ve been involved in an acquisition, I’ve found that sensitively communicating the change of culture was key to making a smooth transition. You can’t lose the people.

Pat Jacklin completed her CMA designation while taking courses with CMA Alberta, the University of Calgary and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. She started her career with Southland Canada, where she worked her way up to division accountant/accounting manager. She then held the position of controller — operations finance with Shoppers Drug Mart. She has been chief financial officer of GoodLife Fitness for the past 12 years.